This Week's PCR|
Movie review by: Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars
Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars
"District 9" by Mike Smith
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|Archives of Nolan's Pop Culture Review|
There are many things that I enjoy about being a critic. I enjoy the occasional person recognizing me in public from the newspaper or the web site. I enjoy the months of November and December, when every day is like Christmas due to the numerous movies I get to see before the end of the year. But mostly I like the opportunity, though rare, to herald the arrival of a new talent, someone whose work will inspire for years to come. This week, with the release of “District 9,” that opportunity has arrived once again.
Johannesburg, South Africa. It has been several decades since a mysterious alien ship appeared over the city. Investigated by a multi-national force, the ship is found to contain beings who have been taken ill. They are removed from the ship and given a place to live in an area known as District 9. In the time that has passed, the few hundred survivors have now grown to number into the thousands. District 9 is now the worse slum in the already ravaged area. The city fathers have decided to “evict” the residents, referred to as “prawns” (the best way I can describe them is a cross between the Predator and Davy Jones from “Pirates of the Caribbean”) to another area they have prepared in the city. Along for the job, and really much to cheerful to be part of the adventure, is the newly appointed head of the mission, Wikus van der Merwe (Copley) who is followed around by a television crew documenting the day’s events. Not happy about being kicked out of their shacks, Wikus tries everything from gentle coercion to bribery, with cans of cat food being the currency of choice. Oh those wacky prawns. When Wikus comes in contact with a strange fluid things begin to change…and not for the better.
With Hollywood cranking out sequels and remakes at a steady pace it is always a treat when something new and original hits the screen. Based on a six minute short film director Blomkamp made in 2005, “District 9” is more than just a science fiction film. It also, whether it wants to or not, makes a statement about the old age of apartheid, when the government did it’s best to section off those they deemed inferior. That Blomkamp was allowed to make this film in South Africa at all is a testament that things have changed. Another twist is that, while convincing the world that they are working in the aliens’ best interest, the leaders of Multi-National United, the group formed to care for the visitors, has been trying for years to replicate the weapons they found aboard the ship with no success. It seems that they don’t possess the main ingredient to get them to work: Prawn DNA. As contact with the fluid begins to alter Wikus, and not for the better, he begins to change in ways that cannot be fathomed.
The film is being heralded as “low budget,” but that is probably the first time you’ll hear those words and “thirty million dollars” in the same sentence. That being said, the money is up on the screen. The special effects are outstanding as are the CGI prawns. Copley is a revelation as the even tempered Wikus, whose own evolution allows him to begin the film as cheerful as Monty Python’s Eric Idle and end the day tougher then Christian Bale in the last “Terminator” film. The film does have a small hint of this past January’s “Cloverfield,” but give Blomkamp credit for being the first filmmaker I can remember that didn’t have the aliens show up somewhere in the United States. Maybe they didn’t have health insurance?
On a scale of zero to four stars, I give “District 9”
This week's movie review of "District 9" is ©2009 by Michael A. Smith. All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2009, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.